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Chapter 1 Invulnerability



If you’re so smart, then why are you dead?


 Season2, Episode 7 of “Psych”

 


The issue is that you don’t know as much as you think you do, and therefore might make some bad choices now. That won’t be too much of a problem unless one or more of those bad choices leads to a permanent, severely regrettable, life-limiting situation, e.g., not having the tools or experience to get a decent job, overdosing on a hard drug, contracting an incurable STD, becoming a parent at too young an age to properly care for and raise you child, becoming incapacitated (physically crippled, extremely hard of hearing, or brain impaired), or dying accidentally. 

The point is you’re not entirely knowledgeable enough yet to REALLY be able to distinguish between what might fall into a relatively low risk/low consequence category and what does not. Sure, I get it that every time you get into a car, even with an unimpaired driver, you could be maimed or killed, but that’s still a reasonable risk. Riding with someone who’s a bad driver, reckless, impaired by drugs or alcohol, or texts while driving, would not be considered a reasonable risk.  I’m sure you get that difference. Other situations e.g., "I'll have unprotected sex and it'll probably be OK," or, "I'll take some street drugs that I'm not entirely sure what they contain and it'll probably be OK," or, "I'll drive just sort of drunk, not really drunk, and it'll probably be OK." These situations are different. 

However, teenagers have a really tough time accepting at a gut level that bad stuff can actually happen to them. They get it that bad stuff happens, but they can’t quite connect the dots to get to the point that they really believe it could happen to them. This is because they may want to do a thing so badly, that they just go with, “Oh, it’ll be OK,” and if it always has been OK, then they're conditioned to believe that it always will be OK. That's human nature. That is where that big brain comes in and should be used. 

In a very small percentage of folks, the part of the brain that can exercise good judgment, if given a chance, just doesn’t seem to be working. Those folks tend to quickly be removed from the gene pool, hopefully before breeding. This book really can't help them – sad but true. So if you know someone that this book couldn’t even begin to help, don’t worry about it. There's nothing you can do to help them. Just let it help you. 

This brings us to the topic of invulnerability, a very important concept when trying to get teenagers to think before acting. Generally I have this discussion about drinking tequila, not about being a teenager, but the outlook of a teenager is somewhat similar to a person who’s been drinking tequila in the sense that they both tend to feel:

·       Omniscient

·       Excited

·       Confused

·       Euphoric and Miserable

·       Bulletproof

 

Well, that’s a lot of different feelings to be going on in one person simultaneously, or in rapid succession. But that’s a pretty typical situation for a teenager. Let’s talk about each one briefly and its possible positive and negative effects on you.

·       Omniscient: Well, rest-assured you don’t know everything and it’s not just because of how smart you are or aren’t. You’re a teenager now and you know lots more than you knew when you were younger – great! But you don’t know nearly as much as you’ll know in another 5-10 years. (Think how much you thought you knew a year ago and compare that to what you know now.) So ease off on that all-knowing stuff for a bit, to help avoid those choices that will limit your life options later.

·       Excited: Yup, it’s a very exciting time. But slow down enough to let your giant brain help you make good decisions. I know it’s hard but try – deep breath, exhale! Also, lots of physical activity helps settle you down so you can think more clearly – try it.

·       Confused: Oh yeah, definitely a confusing time. What makes sense one day, doesn’t the next. It could be changes in you, e.g., your preferences in music, friends, what’s cool, etc., or in the way others regard or treat you. Being a teenager is a pretty unstable time, with lots of associated confusion – not a good time to make decisions that could limit your later life choices.

·       Euphoric and Miserable: You bet! Some times can be absolutely burst-through-your-skin wonderful, while other times can be end-of-the world bad. The thing to really understand and remember here is that neither is as good or as bad as it seems at the time (it’s that “everything’s intense when you’re a teenager” thing). It’s best to try to smooth out the highs and lows, and understand that both will pass. Again, this is not the time to make any life-limiting choices, e.g., pregnancy, marriage, doing hard drugs, etc., or the worst life-limiter of all – suicide. Honestly, NOTHING lasts forever, not the good and not the bad. Please understand and remember this and act accordingly.

·       Bulletproof: Yeah, well, you’re not. Bad things DO happen to kids as a result of bad decisions they make and it’s not always to someone else. Do you think the kids who were crippled or killed while driving or riding with someone who was drunk or drugged or texting, or just driving badly, carelessly, or recklessly, thought it would happen to them? I doubt it. But it does happen to someone, and that someone could be you – really, it could. I’ve known several kids who were killed accidentally while still in high school – good kids, kids that would’ve made the world a better place, had they lived. I hate to say it, but all could’ve lived if they’d made different decisions – from being more wary in the way they moved through the world, to not taking the drugs they took. I’m sure all believed they would be OK, but the world is a tough, unforgiving place, and they weren't OK. Some people make bad decisions and dodge big bullets. Others make bad decisions, and pay heavily for it. It’s very sad, but when something bad happens, there’s no going back, no “do-overs,” – it’s done and it's very real and very final.

 

    “Think twice, act once.”  – Anonymous

 


 

Tear out Page for Chapter 1:

Invulnerability

·       You don’t know as much as you think you do, and might make some bad choices now that you'll really regret later.

·       Bad stuff happens to someone and it could be you.

·       Even when they know it’s not a good idea, some people will go ahead and do something anyway. This is because they want to do that thing so badly, that they just go with, “Oh, it’ll be OK,” and if it always has been OK, then they’re conditioned to believe that it always will be OK. That’s human nature.

·       Let your big, powerful brain help you overcome urges to do something that you might seriously regret later.

·       Being a teenager is a lot like drinking tequila. You feel:

o     Omniscient: You’re not! Don’t make any life-limiting choices now. Remember what you knew and  felt a year or two ago compared to now.

o      Excited: Chill, breathe, exhale, work out.

o     Confused: It’s hard to make sense of this time in your life – good reason not to make decisions now that will limit or take away your later choices.

o      Euphoric and Miserable: Things are NEVER as good or as bad as they seem. Hang in during low times and chill a bit during high times. Nothing lasts forever.

o      Bulletproof: Again, you’re not. Bad things do happen to good people.

·       Think twice, act once.

 

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